Monday, July 28, 2014

In The Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing


About the Book:
Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi's, love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation.

But God has other plans for her life.

While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is shocked to find one of the wealthiest and most honored men of Judah showing her favor.  Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the dark, haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi's chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.

In the Field of Grace is the story of a love that ultimately changes the course of Israel’s destiny and the future of the whole world.

My Thoughts:
He has not abandoned you, Ruth.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  God may not always answer our questions, but He walks with us in the midst of them lest we get lost in the wilderness of our minds.  Invite the Lord into your pain.  Invite Him to be your sufficiency in the midst of it.  I promise, He will sustain you.”  (p. 263)

These are words Naomi speaks to Ruth after a journey through loss, pain, hunger, doubt, anger and many other trials.  Tessa Afshar has fleshed out the characters from the book of Ruth found in Scripture.  This story records one of the most tender testimonies of grace found in the world today.  Tessa offers a glimpse into this story as though you were walking alongside Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz as they discover the faithfulness of God in every circumstance!  EVERY circumstance!

Ruth and Boaz were unaware how their lives would impact the world for all eternity.  They had no idea that they had been grafted into the lineage of Jesus Christ.  Although centuries have passed since their relationship ushered Obed into the world, their story is filled with grace upon grace that never ceases to draw me closer to the Father.

My favorite scene – well one of my favorites - occurs as Boaz is racing across the field on his horse and God calls him to surrender.  WOW!!  I had to stop and weep and surrender some things in my own life!  This is a story of real people who faced real and harsh trials while they walked this earth.  Yet their faith and service to God survived and thrived and stands as a testimony to this day of God’s abundant grace and faithfulness!
Don’t miss this story!  Don’t look the other way!  Allow God’s grace to reach out and transform your world just as it did Ruth, Boaz and Naomi all those years ago!  Halleluiah!!  Amen!!

About the Author:

TESSA AFSHAR was born in a nominally Muslim family in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She survived English boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her mid-twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDIV from Yale University where she served as co-Chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last twelve years in full and part-time Christian work and currently serves as the leader of Women's and Prayer ministries at a church in New England.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Repurposed & Upcycled Life by Michelle Rayburn - REVIEWED


About the Book: (from the back cover)
Are there experiences you'd rather toss in the dumpster?

Discover the repurposed and upcycled life. With her laugh-out-loud Erma Bombeck way of looking at life, Michelle will help you see how some of your greatest disappointments, mistakes, and hurts can be beautiful treasures from God. Part memoir, part inspiration and self-help, this book will help you:

  • Unpack emotional baggage and deal with the past
  • Confront perfectionism and negative attitudes
  • Change your perspective on your circumstances
  • Let go of regret and shame
  • Build positive healthy relationships
  • Dream big and live with purpose

Through inspiration from God's Word and examples from everyday life, you'll discover the joy-filled, hope-rich way of viewing your past, present, and future.

My Thoughts:

What if we were real:  What if we were as honest about our failures as we are about our successes?” (p. 2)

Michelle Rayburn explores this question from every possible angle throughout her book, The Repurposed & Upcycled Life. She walks the reader through a myriad of situations, some from personal experience, some from the experience of others.  Michelle takes the Scripture and teaches transforming truths about successfully navigating life in a fallen world.  She uses her unique talent of repurposing “junk” and applies the practical truths of the Bible to each step of a transformational journey.  She wants everyone to walk in the freedom and purpose of God’s plan for their lives, and her book equips folks to do this!

Each chapter packed with things you will want to remember, so please read with your highlighter at the ready!  At the end of the chapter Michelle offers a section called Getting Personal.  Here you will find a section entitled Faith where she asks purpose-filled questions of self-examination.  She follows this with a section entitled Creativity where she offers ideas of creative activities that give your situation a concrete re-purposing.   The last section is entitled Everyday Life gives practical ways to put what you’ve learned into action.

This is a book that will bring healing and hope to many people in a variety of situations.  Don’t rush through this.  Take time to absorb what God has for you in these pages.  This book has been a love note from God in my life!!  How I praise Him for Michelle Rayburn’s ministry!
About the Author:

Michelle wants to help you connect the dots between faith, creativity, and everyday life and discover the joy of finding God in the most unexpected places. Years ago, she left her career as a registered nurse to raise her family, and along the way, she discovered her true passion for writing, speaking, and singing.

Along that path of discovery, she tried many side ventures, including: a wedding coordinator, rubber stamp demonstrator, custom painter and decorator, craft instructor, craft seller, and web designer. Pile on her hobbies as a quilter, scrapbooker, and avid reader, and that's a lot of dots to connect! For the sake of sanity, she has exchanged most of those roles for the thrill of putting words on paper.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'BORN TO RUN' BY EVA KROON PIKE RELEASES TO CHRISTIAN RADIO TODAY

Single From Singer/Songwriter's Current CD, Love Is All About You
Goes for Adds at Christian AC and Soft AC/INSPO Stations
"Born To Run," the new single from Eva Kroon Pike, is being released to Christian radio today. (Eva Kroon Pike photo).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 22, 2014) -
"Born To Run," the new single from singer/songwriter Eva Kroon Pike's current CD, Love Is All About You, is being released to Christian radio today. The song, written by Pike and veteran Christian hit songwriter Don Koch, is being serviced to Christian AC and Soft AC/INSPO-formatted stations.
 
The new single was inspired, in part, by Pike's husband, Jonny.     

"Running took on a new meaning when my husband of almost 10 years decided to 'get healthier' and started running for weight loss," Pike says. "A year later and almost 90 pounds lighter, Jonny reached his physical goal of getting fit. I immediately thought of how we need to spiritually run the race for Christ, with endurance, towards the ultimate goal, heaven. My hope for 'Born To Run' is that it will encourage others to get physically and spiritually 'fit' for God." 
 
Pike co-wrote the song with her producer, Koch, who has written more than 35 No. 1 songs during his career. He is a multiple Dove Award winner, including winning a Dove Award for Song of the Year in 1994 for "In Christ Alone." Koch's songs have been recorded by the likes of Avalon, Donny Osmond, Michael Crawford, Brian Littrell (Backstreet Boys), and Phillips, Craig and Dean.
 
The single, the second from the CD, is being serviced to Christian radio by A-Sides Radio Promotion.
 
"I have been a fan of Eva Kroon Pike since her Grace That Chose Me album release back in 2010 and I'm ecstatic about working with her on her new radio single, 'Born To Run,'" says Jeff McLaughlin, president of A-Sides Radio Promotion.
 
For more information about Love Is All About You and Pike, visit evakroonpike.com. To contact McLaughlin and A-Sides Radio Promotion, email jeff@asidesradiopromotion.com. 
About Eva Kroon Pike:
"Music is my passion," says Eva Kroon Pike, who has been singing since age 3 and also plays the flute, guitar and keyboard. During her career, Pike has performed in front of thousands of people and has shared the stage with the likes of Anne Graham Lotz, Mark Harris, Babbie Mason and Third Day. Pike's ministry, she says, is about "spreading the
Gospel, one song at a time." In her testimony, Pike shares her confidence that God has a plan for her life and that He chose, through her adoption as an infant, a very special family for her to grow up in to learn life's lessons. Her ministry is to point people to her loving Father who sent His Son to die so that everyone who believes in Him will live eternally. Pike states in her song, "Grace That Chose Me," which focuses on the theme of adoption, "So, if I'm anything close to what I'm meant to be, I owe it to the hands of Grace that chose me."
 
Pike's current EP, Love Is All About You, produced by six-time Dove Award winning producer and songwriter Don Koch (producer for Avalon, 4HIM, and many others; songwriter credits include classics "In Christ Alone," "Adonai" and "Mercy Said No"), was released in 2013. It is the singer/songwriter's fourth recording project. Her current single is "Not Miss A Thing."  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Love Letters from the Edge by Shelly Beach and Wanda Sanchez - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Meditations offering practical hope through biblical expressions of lament and God's relentless, unconditional love for the hurting

Millions of women in the United States battle with after-effects of suffering so great they’ve developed post-traumatic stress disorder—the same suffering experienced by soldiers who’ve gone through war. Sexual and physical abuse, catastrophic accidents, abandonment, natural disasters, invasive medical procedures, and many other painful and overwhelming events can trigger symptoms they are little equipped to deal with and hard-pressed to recognize.

Love Letters from the Edge provides a voice for those struggling to express this pain and reveals intimate encouragement for those in desperate need to hear God’s words of love and deliverance. This heartfelt devotional focuses on the profound laments in the book of Psalms. Each meditation begins with a letter from someone in the throes of despair and then offers a tender response to their pain from God’s perspective.

Fresh, honest, and intimate, Love Letters from the Edge will reach readers who never expected to hear good news from where they are and point them toward the hope and healing of Christ.

My Thoughts:
Love Letters from the Edge is a twelve-week book of meditations designed to help you express your questions and frustrations to God and to better understand his heart for you.”  (p. 19)

This is a very straightforward statement written by the author in an attempt to give the reader an idea of this books format.  There is no way to dive into the emotional  upheaval of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Like many, I always associated this with folks returning from war.  What I’ve learned is that any traumatic event, death, illness, addiction, loss, divorce…any and all of these events can result in lingering PTSD symptoms.   Basically this is a mental health issue that results when, “…a person’s ability to cope is overwhelmed by a highly stressful experience and an individual perceives a threat to his or her own life of the life of someone else.”  (p. 257) The appendices of this book alone contain a gold mine of information!

This book is written as though someone is writing letters back and forth between himself and God.  The circumstances are different for every letter, but God’s answers are consistent and true.  Yes, we do live in a fallen world and suffer the consequences of other’s evil choices.  Until the Savior returns to carry us home, that will always be true.  But God has given us help through books like this one, so that we may learn to seek help, seek answers and rest in God alone.


This is not an easy read, but it is a necessary read!! This isn’t just for those who suffer from PTSD but for anyone who knows someone affected by this disorder.  It is real, and many are suffering!  Give them a hand back into wholeness!! There is a WEALTH of information about medical, spiritual and physical help available for everyone!! A gold mine!! Don’t miss this!!

About the Authors:
Shelly Beach is an award-winning author of eight books, including the Christy Award–winning Hallie’s Heart and ECPA book of the year nominee, Precious Lord, Take My Hand: Meditations for Caregivers. She is a national speaker, delivering a message of hope to thousands of women each year, and writes to an audience of approximately two million readers each month on Caring.com.

Wanda Sanchez is the executive producer of one of the nation’s longest running talk shows, and has over twenty-five years of experience in media, marketing, and publicity. She experienced extensive physical and emotional trauma and has come out the other side. Today, she blogs and speaks about hope for recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder to women and health professionals around the country. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Firewall by Diann Mills - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

About the Book:
After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties. 

My Thoughts:
Odd how life could spin and drop at the same time.”  (p. 327)

Taryn makes this observation at a critical point in the novel, but her life has been spinning and dropping for the previous 326 pages!!  And so has mine!  To read a novel by Diann Mills is to launch yourself into the unknown and “expect an adventure.”  This novel has the lives of everyone in a tailspin from the very first page!

Adults, children, no one is safe in this novel!  And the plot line is so twisted that the reader will be in knots by the time things start to unwind!  Honestly!  Diann casts a number of red herring upon a very tumultuous sea of events – events that read like today’s headlines!  That’s what makes this novel a tad disturbing!  When the idea was conceived and written down, Diann could have never dream what the headlines would be in the month this novel released.  It’s almost as if the Lord Himself is putting an exclamation mark at the end!

See, it is my opinion that security is a myth – a vapor that is whisked away by the evil hand of terrorists around the globe.  Diann has tapped into the depth and breadth of the possibilities surrounding this idea and places Taryn and Grayson square in the middle of the tumult!  Neither of them escapes physical, emotional and spiritual upheaval throughout this novel, and their survival is questionable at best. 

Firewall kicks off Diann’s latest series FBI: Houston.  You don’t want to miss a word of it!! Believe me!  Your mouth will be gaping open with surprise time and time again!  GREAT adventure!!

About the Author:
DiAnn Mills believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. Her books have won many awards through American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005, 2007, and 2010. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a Christy winner in 2010. 

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and is the Craftsman Mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. 

DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her website or find her on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/diannmills



Friday, July 18, 2014

Feast For Thieves by Marcus Brotherton - REVEIWED



About the Book:  (from Moody Publishers)
Sergeant Rowdy Slater is the most skilled-and most incorrigible-soldier in Dog Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, an elite group of paratroopers fighting for the world's freedom in World War II. 

Through a bizarre set of circumstances, Rowdy returns to the States after the war, turns his life around, and falls into the only job he can find-preacher at the sparsely populated community church in Cut Eye, Texas, a dusty highway town situated at the midpoint of nowhere and emptiness.

The town's lawman, suspicious that Rowdy has changed his ways only as a cover up, gives an ultimatum: Rowdy must survive one complete year as Cut Eye's new minister or end up in jail. 

At first Rowdy thinks the job will be easy, particularly because he's taking over for a young female missionary who's held the church together while the men were at war. But when a dark-hearted acquaintance from Rowdy's past shows up with a plan to make some quick cash, Rowdy becomes ensnared due to an irrevocable favor, and life turns decidedly difficult.

Rowdy's a man used to solving problems one of two ways: with his rifle or with his fists. Will he be able to thwart his old friend's evil schemes while remaining true to his new higher calling? 

This is a wild ride of a book bursting with a bank robbery, kidnapping, desperate prayers, and barroom brawls. Before the smoke clears, all sides just might end up getting exactly what they want.

My Thoughts:
With grace, there was nothing that came between him and God. It didn’t matter if the fella had a rough background.  It didn’t matter, even, if he’d once committed a crime.”  (p. 126)

By the time Rowdy Slater understood just a glimpse of grace, he had witnessed war, death and participated in depravity of all sorts!  God definitely worked in mysterious ways time and time again in order to reach Rowdy’s heart.  In the process of reaching Rowdy, God used him to reach others who felt their lives were generally meaningless and without hope.   Cut Eye, Texas was forever changed as Rowdy Slater’s life was transformed right before their eyes!

Sherriff Halligan Barker is probably the wisest, slickest man in all of Texas to rope Rowdy Slater into a role so diametrically opposed to every aspect of his life.  He took an almighty gamble when he made a deal with Rowdy!  In short order life begins to unfold beneath Rowdy’s feet, and he begins to know the people of Cut Eye in the most intimate way!  Deputy Roy, Augusta and Cisco, Myrtle and Clay, Sunny, and Reverend Bobbie are all brought to vivid life in the reader’s heart.  The entire town of Cut Eye becomes something you want to fiercely protect and become a part of.

I have a weakness for broken, brave and cutting edge characters like Rowdy Slater!  I am thrilled to learn that Marcus Brotherton is planning to create a series of books that feature Rowdy as the main character!  Feast For Thieves presents the truth of the gospel in the most exciting unusual way, and truly gives the reader countless examples of mercy and grace throughout the story. 


I can honestly say that I was sad to reach the end of this novel, but thrilled to learn that I can look forward to more from the pen of Marcus Brotherton! I highly recommend this book to everyone!!

About the Author:

MARCUS BROTHERTON is the author or coauthor of more than twenty-five nonfiction books. Notable works include Shifty's War, A Company of Heroes, and the oral history project, We Who Are Alive and Remain: untold stories from the Band of Brothers, a New York Times bestseller. This is his first novel. www.marcusbrotherton.com.